The production quality control issues keep disrupting Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program. Having resumed deliveries only two months ago following a five-month-long hiatus, sources say hand-overs have once more been put on hold, as the FAA has requested the manufacturer provide more information.
On hold again two months after resumption
Planemaker behemoth Boeing is once again pausing deliveries of its 787 dual-aisle aircraft, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Sources familiar with the matter attest that federal air-safety regulators have requested more information relating to previously identified production quality issues.
The issue pertaining to skin flatness tolerances was communicated in September last year and has already led to a five-month suspension of deliveries. This was also most likely one reason Boeing let the Dreamliner’s record-breaking 1,000th delivery pass by without much celebration.
However, it seems this halt in deliveries is expected to be over much sooner. American Airlines was scheduled to receive a new 787 this week. The hand-over has been pushed forward to next week, which indicates that Boeing is optimistic the issue will be resolved within that time frame.
Simple Flying has reached out to Boeing for a comment on the matter but was yet to receive a response at the time of publication. However, a spokesperson for the company told WSJ that they were,
“…working in a timely and transparent manner to provide regulators with more information related to undelivered 787s.”
A tough year on many fronts
The Dreamliner program has been marred by production issues over the past year. First, eight planes already in service with, among others, United Airlines, Air Canada, and Singapore Airlines were grounded due to quality defects to the aft fuselage. All of the aircraft came from the plant in Charleston, South Carolina.
Engineers then discovered that certain components of the 787 horizontal tails had been ‘clamped together with greater force than specified’ at manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah. This potentially leads to gaps between components wider than the regulated one-thousandth of an inch.
Just last month, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive requiring the inspection of all US-registered 787s due to a risk of disengaging decompression panels.
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The FAA has signed off on some planes itself
Fixing the flatness structural flaws of at least 88 planes already made could end up costing Boeing hundreds of millions, Reuters reported earlier this year. Add to that the $6.6 million the FAA fined the manufacturer as part of a settlement over quality lapses going back years. The 787 has been a very costly affair over the past 12 months, almost rivaling its narrowbody teammate, the 737 MAX.
In March, the FAA decided to perform the routine pre-delivery safety checks of four of the undelivered 787s itself. At the time, a spokesperson for the Agency told the WSJ that it could extend the measure to other Dreamliners, should it be deemed necessary. Under normal circumstances, the FAA allows Boeing to perform the final sign-offs on its behalf.